Barefoot Running!

July 15, 2012 § 3 Comments

Running is not my passion – it’s something I do because I want to learn to like it, but I HATE it – at least I have in my traditional running shoes.  I’ve never been a big runner – have run a couple half marathons, but never trained for them, which is probably why the running stops there. I go through spurts of dreading it and being OVERTLY EXCITED to strap my sneakers on, which typically lasts about 5 minutes into the run. And then I hate it again.

So here I am again, in one of those “I’m going to be a RUNNER!” phases. But this time it’ll be different… ha, I hope! I’ve been reading Born to Run by Christopher McDougall, and as everyone else who’s read the book, I think I’ve found the answer: ditch my running shoes and go barefoot! Well not completely, but I did go out and snag a pair of New Balance Minimus Zeros.

The large ones are my boyfriend’s. Yes, I have freakishly small feet.

The whole concept behind barefoot/minimalist running is that by removing all that cushion, which only became popular in the 70s with the birth of Nike, you allow your body to move the way it was meant to. Naked feet naturally soften the whole body’s landing. Go try it – run on your tile floor barefoot – you won’t be landing with your heel that’s for sure! Human anatomy was designed for running barefoot.  So when you land softly on the forefront or ball of your foot, you reduce all the stress that shoots up your foot and into your knees, hips and back from heel striking. Even though modern day running shoes are engineered to absorb the impact hammering your heels, they can’t counter all of it. One Harvard study shows that heel strikers throw the equivalent of up to 3 times their body weight into their heel. Running shoes only reduce this impact by about 10%, On the other hand (or the bare foot, teehee), there is no high level of impact recorded at all for barefoot runners!

I’ve been sporadically trying them out for about 10 weeks now. The runs started at 3-6 minutes, hovered there for 2 weeks and then I thought I was ready for a big run of 16 whole minutes. Holy hell was I wrong! I could hardly walk for the next 3 days! I guess it takes a bit longer than 2 weeks to build back up a lifetime of relatively inactive calves… And it probably didn’t help that those 16 minutes were downhill either.

But now I’m up to a 23 minute run, and good thing too, because half-marathon training officially starts today! Yup, I’m 13 weeks away, and need to get my calves in good enough shape for the San Francisco Nike Women’s Half Marathon. I guess the good thing about switching running techniques is that it won’t be able to put it off until 2 weeks before the race – my calves wouldn’t last past 25 minutes I’m sure!